2022 Leadership and Business Growth Trends Report

Meet the 360 Growth Partners

'Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.'

– Alice Walker

If you own or manage a business or hold a leadership role, it’s likely that the past two years have been an absolute whirlwind. Most of you will have been navigating constantly changing waters, often with little foresight of what is coming your way, adapting to uncertain circumstances and taking tough decisions when needed.

From employee wellbeing to supply chain resilience, rising costs to unstable market forces, creative problem solving has been more important than ever for businesses and their leaders.

Of course, out of challenge comes progress, and many of our clients and partners have experienced some of their most financially successful years in business over the past 12 months. They’ve adapted swiftly and displayed remarkable levels of resilience.

Our experienced growth experts work across marketing strategy and delivery, technology, people and business development, alongside some of the brightest and best businesses in the UK.

In our 2022 trend report, we share our insights into some of the changes we see shaping the business world over the next 12 months. As well as some of the resources we use to keep ourselves on track, develop our knowledge and stay ahead.

Image of Andrew Silver, Director of 360 Growth Partners

Founder Andrew Silver shares his key priorities for leaders in 2022:

In 2022 we’ll shift from crisis mode to creating long term value for our businesses and customers – and this will mean so much more than financial growth.

1.Stop focusing on crisis management and start prioritising long term value creation.

Leaders can be forgiven if they’ve been fixated on one short-term crisis after another, but they shouldn’t abandon the long-term focus that sets the best leaders apart. In fact, according to a 15 year research project by Harvard Business Review, companies that prioritise long term goals over short term gains earn 47% higher revenue. Read the report here

2.In a ‘post-covid’ world, it’s time we challenged the definitions of success

For a very long time, the pursuit of growth was singular, monochromatic work —valuable for its own sake and sufficient to justify any leader’s standing and actions. As the pandemic’s worst economic and human shocks slowly fade, however, much subtler and varied hues colour the future. A new frame of reference is taking hold—on lives and livelihoods, the fragility of a warming planet, and a heightened sense of social justice. This new era will challenge leaders to define success in new ways and balance the trade-offs necessary to do it.

3.Covid has shifted priorities and prompted us to care more for others. When we set our growth targets for the years to come, sustainability and inclusion should be key factors.

Consider this: without growth, how could we achieve prosperity and well-being or pay for the transitions needed to make the economy more sustainable and inclusive? Without sustainability, how could we fashion growth for the current generation and the ones to follow? Without inclusion—an opportunity for productive work and a satisfying life for all citizens—how could we ensure the demand needed to propel growth? The three are intrinsically linked and leaders should be considering how they develop them in tandem for a better future.

Image of Mark Jenkinson, Business Technology Associate

Business Technology Associate Mark Jenkinson shares his tech tips for 2022:

Through direct digital connections with customers, CIO/CTO’s priorities must focus on the solutions that will enable growth and innovation, and create scalable, resilient technical foundations that will free cash for digital investments.

1.Ensure your business is truly ‘cloud-based’

First, thanks to COVID customer behaviours and preferred interactions have changed significantly, and while they will continue to shift, the uptick in the use of digital services is here to stay.

Second, as leaders grapple with ways to deal with an uneven recovery, historical data and forecasting models will be of little use to predict where pockets of demand will emerge and where supply will be necessary. New data and completely rebuilt analytical models will be essential to steer operational decisions.

Finally, many businesses have shifted to remote-working models almost overnight. A remote-first setup allows companies to mobilise global expertise instantly, organise a project review with 20—or 200—people immediately, and respond to customer enquiries more rapidly by providing everything from product information to sales and after-sales support digitally. Find more inspiration here

2.Invest in ‘Data Fabric’ architecture to manage silo data

The number of data and application silos has surged in the last decade, while the number of skilled personnel in data and analytics (D&A) teams has either stayed constant or even dropped. Data fabrics – a flexible, resilient integration of data across platforms and business users – have emerged to simplify an organisation’s data integration infrastructure and create a scalable architecture that reduces the technical debt seen in most D&A teams due to the rising integration challenges.

A data fabric’s real value is its ability to dynamically improve data usage with its inbuilt analytics, cutting data management efforts by up to 70% and accelerating time to value.  Find more inspiration here

Image of Alice Ackroyd, Leadership Development & HR associate

Leadership and HR Associate Alice Ackroyd shares the key trends shaping workforce and workplace strategies in 2022:

The pandemic has accelerated changes in the way we work which is forcing companies to shift their workforce and workplace strategies in an urgent response. This, in turn, means HR leaders are having to evolve the way they identify, attract and retain people and critical skills and redesign work to enhance the employee experience and drive business performance.

1.Engage with employee experiences

Workers are hungry for trust, social cohesion, and purpose. They want to feel that their contributions are recognised and that their team is truly collaborative. They desire clear responsibilities and opportunities to learn and grow. They expect their personal sense of purpose to align with that of their organisation. And they want an appropriate physical and digital environment that gives them the flexibility to achieve that elusive work–life balance. Find more inspiration here

2.Get hybrid working right

We are at a tipping point to rethink how work gets done and how it is rewarded and there is no ‘one size fits all’. The pandemic has accelerated adopting a hybrid model, but we are still learning. Changing attitudes will take some time and key to this is empathetic leadership and a flexible approach to policy. Employers are ready to get back to significant in-person presence. Employees aren’t. The disconnect is deeper than most employers believe, and a spike in attrition and disengagement may be imminent, so anticipate this and act accordingly. Find more inspiration here

3.Develop your future talent

The organisation of the future will not—or, at least, should not—look like the one that existed as recently as 2019. It will need to be more flexible, less hierarchical, and more diverse. Future-ready companies share three characteristics: they know what they are and what they stand for; they operate with a fixation on speed and simplicity; and they grow by scaling up their ability to learn and innovate. HR can help propel this transformation by facilitating positive change in these three key areas. Find more inspiration here

Image of Samantha Legget, Marketing Associate

Marketing Associate Sam Legget shares her top tips for shaping a strong brand in 2022:

Over the years, strong brands have proven their worth and this is even truer today whilst we are still in the throws of the pandemic. Strong brands create trust and reduce the risk of wrong decisions. And as new disruptions dominate the media every day, the familiar brand becomes even more important than usual as a source of security and comfort.

1. Aligning your brand to your purpose

When we operate from our purpose, we are more driven, passionate, innovative and we tend to connect with our audiences and our people on a deeper level.  So, our advice is start working on your why, inspire those around you to believe in you, and then do exactly what you say you will by living your purpose in everything you do.Find more inspiration here

2. Telling your brand story

With strong storytelling, you can form positive emotional associations with you and your brand. The emotions you evoke with your stories go a long way in defining how people perceive you, creating a stronger connection in your audience’s mind between you and the problem you solve for them. Find more inspiration here

3. Measuring the success of your story

Nearly 80 percent of CEOs say they are looking to their marketing leaders to drive revenue growth. Fulfilling an ambitious growth mandate requires a marketing agenda that is far more sophisticated, predictive, and customised than ever before. It requires a different playbook with new approaches and tools that few have yet to fully master. While broad reach, powerful, resonant storytelling, and creativity remain critical, marketers now need to utilise data and analytics at scale to crack the code that enables more targeted and engaging interactions to shape consumer behaviour. Find more inspiration here

Image of Anna Shepherd, Digital Marketing Associate

Digital marketing Associate Anna Shepherd highlights the key trends she sees shaping digital delivery in 2022:

Even those who planned their marketing activities based on what they knew at the start of 2021 found themselves needing to scrap their plan and start from scratch again. But some things are certain. The future of marketing and business will be more diverse, inclusive, and connected to real customer needs. While technologies such as AI and data-driven marketing continue to grow, the overarching focus will be on people, not technology.

1.Creating story driven, visual content

Humans are visual creatures. We are naturally better at retaining images than any other form of content. Google, Pinterest and many others are investing in visual search technology as images are already returned for 19% of searches on Google and 62% of millennials say they are more interested in visual search than any other new technology. Find more inspiration here

2.Personalised communications

Millennials have already peaked as a percentage of the adult population and Gen Z will continue to influence marketing more than millennials. Gen Z have grown up in a digital world and share very different viewpoints than generations that came before them. They’re also more diverse than any other generation in history. A more diverse audience can make content marketing challenging, but it also creates more opportunities to reach different segments of that audience through personalisation. Find more inspiration here

3.Employee activation

If you’re doing marketing right, your marketing team shouldn’t remain in its own world. On the contrary, they should be engaging with all staff to gather their expertise and insight on the product or service they’re selling and getting them involved in its promotion. That’s not just asking employees to share press releases and brand content on their social media pages, it’s encouraging employees to create and share their passions and expertise themselves. Find more inspiration here

We hope you find our report and resources useful and are able to use it to shape your business strategy in 2022 and beyond.

Best wishes for a successful year ahead.